Practicing Science Fiction.pdf - Practicing Science Fiction Critical Essays on Writing Reading and Teaching the Genre Edited by KAREN HELLEKSON CRAIG B

Practicing Science Fiction.pdf - Practicing Science Fiction...

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Practicing Science Fiction Critical Essays on Writing, Reading and Teaching the Genre Edited by KAREN HELLEKSON, CRAIG B. JACOBSEN, PATRICK B. SHARP and LISA YASZEK McFarland &. Company, Inc., Publishers fefferson, North Carolina, and London
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Introduction: Women and Writing Lisa Yaszek Although science fiction has sometimes been described as storytelling about "boys and their toys," women have always written science fiction . Many members of the science fiction community treat nineteenth-century authors Mary Shelley and Charlotte Perkins Gilman as key figures in proto - science fiction. Women were also active participants in the creation of sci- ence fiction as a modern popular genre. Writers including Clare Winger Harris, Leslie F. Stone, and Louise Taylor Hansen published regularly in the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, as did Leigh Brackett and C. L. Moore in the 1940s. Such authors were instrumental in the development of science fiction story forms including the bad creation story, the technoutopia, and the space opera; as well as archetypes including the mad scientist, the creative engineer, and the heroic scientist-explorer. Because these authors followed the practice of their male counterparts in writing primarily from male perspectives, they might seem to have been instrumental in the construction of science fiction as a masculinist genre as well. However, early women science fiction writers complicated common- sense ideas about what counted as appropriate stories and protagonists in their chosen genre by using complex frame narratives in which male speak- ers related the adventures of female scientists, explorers, and aliens as they learned about such adventures through women's letters, telegraph messages, and even television transmissions. As such, women writers provided readers with at least fleeting glimpses of alternate scientific, social, and sexual orders. After World War II, hundreds of new women writers entered the SF 149
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community, including SF luminaric .~such asJ11di1h M rl'il ,111d Carol Emsh - willer and lesser-known writers such as Alice El a11or Jo11 ·s and Ann War- ren Griffith. Like their male counterparts , all of these:: women produced a wide range of stories grappling with the relations of science and society. They also actively contributed to the development of SF as a mature genre by exploring the impact of science and technology on supposedly feminine (and supposedly verboten) topics including marriage, motherhood, and housekeeping . This new mode of science fiction storytelling was notable for its insistence on a new protagonist: the housewife heroine who uses her rechnoscientific domestic skills to fight militaristic patriarchal relations and forge new communities of peaceful, like-minded scientists, aliens, and human mothers in the conventionally feminine spaces of the home and the class- room. As such, postwar women's science fiction was the first body of litera- ture to explore the relations of science, society, and gender in a systematic way.
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